After searching unsuccessfully for hours by air, land, and sea, authorities have not ruled out any causes in the disappearance of a 2-year-old girl Thursday at a Rockport beach, a State Police spokesman said.
David Procopio said Caleigh Anne Harrison was playing at Long Beach with her mother, 4-year-old sister, and the family dog when she went missing shortly after noon Thursday.
“The circumstances are mysterious: At one point she was there with her sister, and a few minutes later, there was one little girl standing there,’’ Procopio said. “So we are praying for a good outcome, but we also need to investigate every possible scenario, including some that are potentially very tragic.’’
A woman who answered the phone at Caleigh’s home and said she was the toddler’s grandmother declined to comment Thursday night.
An early investigation indicated that Caleigh’s sister, mother, and the dog were playing with a ball that went over a wall separating the beach from nearby cottages, Procopio said. He said the girl’s mother went to retrieve the ball and momentarily lost sight of the children. When she looked back, Caleigh was gone.
Procopio said an inlet from the ocean that would have carried strong currents as the tide receded Thursday was a short distance from where the family was playing. He also said powerful riptides churn the waters off the beach.
The water off Rockport are about 48 degrees, said Bob Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
State troopers, Rockport police officers, and canine teams searched the beach, cottages, and cars without success Thursday afternoon. Six divers, two helicopters, and a few boats from the State Police and the US Coast Guard also assisted in the search, but Procopio said they did not find anything.
“We have not ruled out foul play, we have not ruled out an accidental fall into the ocean, and we have not ruled out that there could be some other scenario that presents itself,’’ he said.
Some troopers stayed at the beach overnight to continue the investigation, Procopio said, and divers will resume the search Friday morning after choppy seas forced them to suspend their effort Thursday night.
A Coast Guard public affairs specialist, Adam Stanton, said the service plans a flyover of the scene at dawn Friday.
Caleigh has light-brown hair and blue-gray eyes and was last seen wearing a light pink T-shirt and dark pink capri pants. She is under 3 feet tall and weighs between 27 and 35 pounds.
Anyone with information about her whereabouts is asked to call 911 immediately.
Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.